Thursday, May 28, 2009

Max didn't come home last night.

Not even at midnight or 3 a.m., when something woke me up and I thought it might be his mewing at the window. But it wasn't and I went back to sleep after a brief period of wondering if I would feel devastated or relieved if he never came home again.

The predatory nature of cats in general and Max in particular has been much in evidence since our spate of nice weather started a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday I found the grisly remains of one baby rabbit when I went out to go to the store and a few hours later I found a second pile of entrails on the driveway. This on top of a full meal at 5 a.m.

Several times I have found him playing with a baby rabbit or a bird or a chipmunk in the flower bed and have gone out and picked him up by the scruff of the neck, put him indoors, and then shepherded the victim to a safer place. He never seems to be put out by my rescuing of the victim and doesn't run off when I approach. But he doesn't learn from time-outs or yelling or rewards for good behavior; it's too deeply hardwired into his nature.

I have to close the deck door when I'm not right there to supervise the ins and outs through the flexible screen because he has frequently brought in his kills, much to the fascination of Loosy and Lily who would like to be predators themselves but don't have much to work with, since they can't get off the deck, being too chicken to jump like Max does. I'm fine with their fly- and moth-kills; somehow that doesn't seem like the same thing.

He's been gone almost twenty-four hours now. He could still come romping home with feathers or fur on his whiskers and, of course, I would welcome him. If he doesn't come home, I will mourn him and miss him, but not the corpses I have to deal with daily. Such is the nature of the food chain, I guess. It's neither kind nor merciful in many, perhaps most, species (including human?), but it works.

8 comments:

Joel Monka said...

If he doesn't return, mourn his leaving the nest, but don't mourn his passing unless you actually find his body; cats sometimes strike out on their own, even after spending years in a human household.

That has happened a couple times to us. Our Mr. Gray, an enormous gray tomcat, had been adventurous from the beginning, even though he was fixed- climbing out on the roof...but so loving and trusting that when I spread out my coat like a net, he jumped from the roof in perfect faith that I would catch him. (which I did) He was always affectionate, the perfect housekitty when indoors. Then one day he disappeared.

We searched the neighborhood, and never found a flatcat in the street, but still mourned his passing, as we couldn't imagine him staying away from his toys and beloved heated waterbeds. (us) We occassionally heard our neighbors talk about a huge gray cat stalking around, but never dared hope or believe it was him. Then, over a year later, he came home! He came in through the secret cat entrance (a tortuous route through a crawlspace just cat sized into the basement) and ran right upstairs to jump on the bed!

But he only stayed a few days, and was off again. Nobody else has ever succeeded in adopting him, either; neighbors reported sightings of him over the months and years. (he has become something of a legend on our block) He is just a wild spirit who must live free, despite his genuine affection for various humans.

Why? Who knows... as Sigfried and Roy found out, despite living with cats all our lives we will never truly understand them. All we can do is love them.

ms. kitty said...

Here in this rural area, it's most likely he would be taken out by a coyote who viewed him as a rival for food. We do live on a busy road, so that also could take him out. I like the idea of his going walkabout permanently!

ogre said...

As Joel describes, cats are only semi-domesticated. Probably better thought of as co-adapted...

I've seen video of an African wildcat--not the same species as our feline domestic companions--visiting amiably with a fellow in Africa. This feline strolls out of the bush now and then, visits (and would seem for all the world like a large (outdoor) house cat while he does), and departs.

It'd be fascinating to understand what's going through their minds...

I don't know how many times I've heard of families who discovered that they shared a cat...

Robin Edgar said...

:Here in this rural area, it's most likely he would be taken out by a coyote who viewed him as a rival for food.

More likely by a coyote or other wild animal who viewed Max as food Ms. Kitty, as I have shared my concerns with you before here. Hopefully Max The Murderous is not now Max The Murdered. Needless to say I too would much prefer that the latter scenario is what has taken place here and, if Max doesn't ever come back and you don't ever find his remains, you can always latch on to that notion. That being said I have had a cat or two who have gone AWOL for several months, only to return home safe and sound down the road a bit. With any luck Max The Murderous will show up with yet another "love offering" for you soon enough. ;-)

Robin Edgar said...

I guess that you would have said something if Max had come back by now. As much as I hope that he is on a "prowl-about" I realistically recognize that he may have run into trouble. I just want to say that if that is the case that I believe that you did the right thing in allowing him to be the kind of cat that he wanted to be and didn't keep him cooped up in the house for his own safety. I have always given my cats the highest amount of freedom possible, or at least practical, but then I have always lived in an urban area which does not have coyotes and other predators about although urban areas have their own dangers for cats, including those consummate predators known as human beings. So don't feel any guilt or remorse for allowing him the freedom to be the cat that he wanted to be if he never does come home. I am quite sure that Max would concur.

Best Wishes for you and Max wherever he may be,

Robin Edgar

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Robin. You've probably read the news flash by now, that he came home last night just about 24 hours after I started wondering about him. He seems none the worse for wear, but he was all dusty (I think he might have been shut up in someone's garage or treed) and very tired-looking. He's being very much a homebody today, either nervous about something or just tired out.

Robin Edgar said...

I'm not *that* tied to my computer Ms. Kitty. I only just saw the news flash now. Glad to see that he is back safe and sound. Looks like I got the "love offering" part right with my "prophecy". ;-)

Robin Edgar said...

I see now that your "news flash" was posted as a separate blog post *before* my 7:58am comment but I failed to see it at the time. I think that I came directly back to this blog post rather than the main blog URL otherwise I would have seen it. In any case I stand by my advice should he ever disappear again and would ask you to continue to allow him his freedom. Of course I figure if you have come this far with him that you probably won't restrict his freedom now. It's all about respecting his inherent worth and dignity as a semi-wild cat. :-)